In my mind, I’ve been turning around the pros and cons of euthanasia for our ailing and beloved cat, Oscar. Yesterday morning, Oscar seemed so sick that I scheduled a home euthanasia visit for this afternoon. This morning, I am turning around to cancel that visit, because Oscar took a turn for the better yesterday afternoon.
I notice Oscar has trouble turning around without staggering in the morning. In the afternoons, he is turning around before he settles in my lap. And no matter what he is doing, he is still turning around to eat some delicious chicken whenever we offer it to him.
My son is not turning around in his belief that we should not euthanize Oscar. My husband Michael is turning around what he believes is right, depending on Oscar’s behavior.
I’m used to turning around many perspectives in my mind while making decisions, especially difficult ones like this one. With so much turning around, everybody seems a little dizzy, including Oscar.
Turning around to today’s photos, here’s the inspiration for today’s title:
When I saw that sign yesterday, I thought there was probably no turning around from today being Oscar’s last day on earth. However, in my life, I’ve experienced and witnessed so much turning around that nothing seems written in stone.
Last week, I witnessed people in my Coping and Healing groups turning around low self esteem by discussing positive attributes. If anyone had trouble naming what they liked about themselves, the other group members had no trouble turning around to share what they appreciated about that person.
Every time I try to write my last letter from the President for the Northeastern Society for Group Psychotherapy, I keep turning around to other activities, like watching musicals on TV (including The Music Man, Bye Bye Birdie, and On The Town).
Here’s a thought that’s turning around in my mind: It’s difficult to say goodbye.
No matter where I am, I’m often turning around to take photos like these:
Closure is challenging, because it brings up old closures, which often relate to losses.
I like to use the term “ending the chapter”, when I talk to people about closure. Somebody, in my office, recently said that in their culture, they use the term “putting the period on the end of the sentence.” I like that, too.
Here’s what I’ve written, so far, about closure in my final letter from the President:
As I’ve thought about writing this, my final letter to you as President of NSGP, naturally my mind has gone to thoughts of closure. (Personally, I don’t like the word “termination”, because that sounds SO final.) As I have learned from my trainings at NSGP (and as I often tell people in my “Coping and Healing” drop-in groups) a good-enough sense of closure is critical in transitions — allowing us to appreciate what we’ve shared together and to move ahead better equipped for future challenges.
In my groups, we often discuss the insufficient and disappointing closures with family members, friends, work situations, organizations, and other important aspects of our life, and how this lack of satisfying closure in important transitions can keep us stuck. During these challenging days, when we might be feeling uncomfortably stuck, closure is especially important.
So what helps with closure? Saying what feels left unsaid.
Naming what you got.
Naming what you didn’t get.
Discarding what is not serving you well.
Later today, I will facilitate a “Coping and Healing” group on a telehealth platform (which I sometimes call “The Home Version of Coping and Healing”). At the end of the group, the participants will hear me, as usual, acknowledge the importance of getting closure in the “wrap up” section of the group. I will introduce wrap-up by explaining, again, what helps with closure. I will invite discarding “what is not serving you well” by showing this to the group:
That’s the magic waste paper basket, an important part of my Coping and Healing groups. If you throw something away in the magic waste paper basket, it will either go away or come back less powerful. Here’s an incomplete list of what people have thrown away in the magic waste paper basket:
In my good job as a psychotherapist, I sometimes ask new people how they feel about compliments (including encouraging words like “Good job!”). They often do a good job honestly answering that they have trouble with compliments. I hope I do a good job explaining that
they are not alone in struggling to believe and accept compliments,
I like to give compliments, and
all my compliments are authentic.
When I was doing my good job in person at my office, I would point out the good clock there with the inscription “Show up. Be Gentle. Tell the Truth.” I think that does a good job explaining the process of therapy for both the patient and the provider.
People are dong a good job accepting authentic compliments when they take them in without internal or external protest and simply say, “Thank you.”
I hope I did a good job yesterday capturing these images around me.
Michael did an incredibly good job creating Shepherd’s Pie from on-hand good ingredients like potatoes, cheese, mushrooms, carrots, corn, and ground turkey.
That reminds me of a good saying I heard on the job: “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Your Secret Mental Weapon (found here) does a good job describing how that modern saying derives from these good quotes:
Voltaire: “The best is the enemy of the good.”
Confucius: “Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.”
Shakespeare: “Striving to better, oft we mar what’s well.”
Striving to better this post, I hope I do a good job finding a good enough video.
Now, I’m celebrating my upcoming marriage to Michael with you!
That celebratory card is from my thoughtful and celebrated co-workers, who celebrated with me yesterday by giving me these cupcakes.
I am celebrating with you that cupcake ring, which I might need on Friday since one of the his-and-hers wedding rings we ordered online IS the wrong size, just as I feared. I like celebrating mistakes, but some mistakes can be a shock to the system. If I get the wedding ring resized quickly, I’ll certainly be celebrating that with you!
As usual, I’m celebrating with you many moments from yesterday:
After the retreats — which involved some small talk but mostly medium and big talk — I was thinking about all the wonderful friends I have lost over the last few months and I remembered how I’ve been saying to people, “Please don’t die.”
Then, last night at our local supermarket, I saw this:
Please don’t die, all you people who are reading this. Or, at least, do your best to stay alive as long as possible.
Here are the other photos I took yesterday:
Please don’t die, Harley and Oscar.
Please don’t die, tigers and other wildlife. Please don’t die, cousin Lani (who sends me great photos of tigers through snail mail, which is apparently still alive).
Please don’t die and use whatever remedies that might help you stay alive.
Dwell in possibility (following the undying words of Emily Dickinson) and please don’t die.
Please don’t die and please celebrate every day that you are alive. YAAAAY!
Please don’t die, no matter who you are, what you are, or how you say hello. Just don’t say goodbye.
Also, seven years ago I expanded my network of friends by starting a daily blog. Every morning, including today, I’ve written about my heart, my son, my passion for the healing power of groups, my song-writing, my cats, my hopes, my fears, this speech — whatever helps gird me and prepare me for the day ahead.
I am girding and preparing myself for a day without the earthly presence of Deb, friends, family members, and other shining lights who have passed.
Girding and preparing myself includes listening to music I love. Yesterday, when I was walking amongst the creatures and environs around me, I was reminded of a musician I loved when I was young — Jacques Loussier, who played jazz versions of Bach pieces, like this one:
As always, girding and preparing includes sharing my gratitude to all, including YOU.